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Simple steps can help your heart!

Stress plays a large part in our health. The heart is no exception. 

Stress comes in many forms. It can even be beneficial in moderation and when encountering a dangerous situation. But when it comes to chronic stress—the kind where the body constantly feels under threat— the heart can pay a high price.

All at risk for stress 

February is Heart Health Month. It is also Black History Month. Research shows Black women often suffer chronic stress. This stress can stem from larger traumas, or smaller, more frequent microaggressions in daily life. Experts note racism can cause many health problems because the stress reaction to frequent traumatic events add up in the body.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of women in the U.S. CPR can save lives, but not enough people of color are receiving it. Here are some alarming statistics:

  • Only 39% of women received CPR from an untrained lay responder in public compared to 46% of men.
  • Black and Hispanic people are less likely to receive CPR from an untrained lay responder.

Pregnancy is also an important time to monitor cardiovascular health. Black and Indigenous women are especially vulnerable because of the high rates of maternal and infant mortality compared to white women. If a pregnant person has high blood pressure, it could be a condition called pre-eclampsia. This condition can produce dangerous seizures even after pregnancy.

“Pregnancy acts like a stress test,” says Dr. Uma Krishnan, a board-certified cardiologist with Pulse Heart Institute. Dr. Krishnan says diabetes or hypertension during pregnancy can be an indicator of possible heart problems later in life. 

If you or someone you know is pregnant, it’s important to get prenatal care as soon as possible. The regular monitoring of your body during pregnancy is vital. Your relationship with your provider is important to your cardiovascular health, but it isn’t everything. 

Everyday steps to protect your heart!

Everyone can take simple steps to protect their heart. 

  • Exercise.
  • Learn hands-only CPR.
  • See your doctor for regular check-ups.
  • Use mindfulness practices to reduce stress.
  • Seek out mental health support.

Other simple steps can help as well:

  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Limit red meat and alcohol.
  • Exercise and move.
  • Stop smoking.

Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program if you are pregnant or have any other medical risks.

Taking care of your heart health leads to a longer, more enjoyable life.

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